“It is a truly historic moment that will help deliver the homes hard-working people rightly deserve, transforming generation rent into generation buy”
– Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, 13th October 2015
On Monday 2nd November 2015 the House of Commons passed the second reading of the Conservative Government’s landmark Housing and Planning Bill, a 119-page legislation document with a clear message that they would keep the country building while giving hard-working families every opportunity to unlock the door to home ownership.
Among other measures, the key focuses of the Housing and Planning Bill include:
While the Government states that the bill ‘kick-starts a national crusade to get one million homes built by 2020’, some of the changes have been met with a mixed reaction. For example, whilst the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) welcomes the priority being afforded to housing by the Government, the Bill in many ways undermines the shift towards local decision making under the Localism Act 2012.
The headline provision is the introduction of a new legal duty on councils to guarantee the provision of 200,000 starter homes, offered to first-time buyers by developers at a 20% discount on market price and in place of affordable housing for rent under section 106 obligations. While the Government focus on home ownership is understandable (with recent statistics showing that just 63.3% of households across England now own their home, a figure lower than France for the first time in a generation), unless the ‘affordable housing’ issue and definition is revisited, the proposals will likely come at the expense of those who may never be able to afford to buy their own home. The issue could be further worsened by the extended rights for housing association tenants under the ‘Right to Buy’.
Whilst the new Housing and Planning Bill indicates the importance of housebuilding across the UK economy, there are still a number of questions to be answered on the implementation of the legislation and how the adverse impacts will be mitigated. The enormous discretion afforded by Greg Clark MP, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, means that the impacts of the Bill are still very difficult to judge.
For further information on the Housing and Planning Bill, or to discuss a project that you think might benefit from our expertise, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Planning and Development Department on 01858 439 090 or email email@example.com